ARTIST OF THE WEEK: MINNA GILLIGANSeptember 29, 2017
Top image: Minna Gilligan, For The Time Being, 2017, acrylic and collage on paper, Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
Melbourne-based artist Minna Gilligan is one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists. Working with a blend of collage, acrylic paints and canvas, her works are a psychedelic look at the past and present. We talk to her about how she started, the themes she explores and her main inspirations.
Have you always been interested in art?
As far back as I can remember I took art ‘seriously’, even in the context of primary school art classes. I am lucky to come from a family of creatively engaged and hard-working people, painters, designers, writers, musicians… and my Mum is a florist. I was always encouraged in whatever I did, but the path of artist seemed a natural one for me that I seriously started pursuing at 16.
How would you describe your style?
My style is unapologetic to say the least – I reference a particular type of 60s and 70s rose-tinted psychedelia and operate it within a contemporary digital realm.
What are your favourite materials to work with and why?
I love working with paint as it packs a punch but is also forgiving. I like textas for their immediacy and their nuance once they start running out of ink. Collage is also a go-to medium for me as I enjoy its ability to illustrate a narrative efficiently.
Image: Minna Gilligan, Diet Snapple, 2017, Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
What topics and themes do you like to explore through your work?
Loosely, my work begins at a juncture of the past and present. I nostalgically reference a time I never lived through – the 1960s and 1970s – and utilise its bold aesthetic and ability to cultivate a universal fondness for the past. My usage of psychedelic colours and vintage print imagery draws people in to my seemingly rose-tinted world. I like to focus on female narratives of longing, day-dreaming, and the occasional exhalation.
On first look, my works appear as carefree playgrounds of colour. The more time you spend with my work, the more you notice the sinister and sickly sweet undertones.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given, about art or otherwise?
I honestly think I’m overdue for some good advice as I’ve had a challenging year this year in regards to my art practice… I do always need to remind myself of an email an artist friend sent to me a couple of years ago: “Use the opportunities that come your way. The world is changing. Keep going as you do.”
What’s the art scene in Melbourne like and how does it inspire you?
The art scene in Melbourne is… incestuous, in many senses of the word. When I was younger I thrived on that closeness and the fact that everyone knew everyone. Now that I am older I am more cynical and feel like I’ve been around the block too many times to worry about who is cool and about being cool myself. The best artists (and people!) in Melbourne are sincere, friendly and supportive of others. They are who inspires me here.
Image: Minna Gilligan, All The Things We Do For Fun, 2016, acrylic, spray paint and collage on canvas, Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
What are your main inspirations?
• The internet and girls/women/trans people/non-binary people being and expressing their being on the internet.
• Buying things from Op Shops
• Clothing and dressing
• Lana Del Rey
Your work is incredibly striking and powerful, what’s your creative process like?
My creative process is chaotic and unorganised but functional. I don’t start a work with an idea in my head as to how it will look as a finished product. My works breathe and take shape as I go. I work quickly with an urgency and enjoy the visual energy that produces on an otherwise static surface.
How do you feel that the internet and platforms like Instagram have changed the art scene?
Instagram and the internet in general has made art more accessible to the masses. I respond so well to the nature of Instagram because the ultimate reason that I make work is so it is seen and that it reaches people. I don’t want my work to be solely accessed by those educated at a specific art school, or by the rich. Fine art should be available for everyone and it is this reason why I enjoy sharing and being a part of the Instagram community so much.
Image: Minna Gilligan, Sunday Morning, 2016, acrylic and collage on paper, Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
What do you hope people will take away from your work?
I hope that people can see my work and project their own emotional narratives onto them. I don’t have set rules as to what people should take away – I believe everything I make is and should be filtered through the viewer’s own personal experience. This gives the works a life of their own, a dynamism, and it avoids them becoming static or stale.
Have you got any projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I have a solo exhibition coming up in February 2018 at the gallery I am represented at in Melbourne – Daine Singer. Aside from that, the biggest exhibition project of my career will debut well into the future in 2019… and that’s all I can share about that for now!
Image: Minna Gilligan, Brass In Pocket, 2016, collage and acrylic on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
Image: Minna Gilligan, Mystery To Me, 2017, collage and acrylic on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
Image: Minna Gilligan, Snake Eyes, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery
Image: The Love Witch, 2017, acrylic and collage on paper. Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer Gallery